Sir Roger Bannister has described the problem of doping in sport as a source of "extreme sadness" for him.
The 87-year-old, who was made a Companion of Honour for services to sport on Tuesday, told ITV News he was "sorry" that drugs cheats continued to plague clean playing fields.
But he warned that drugs testers were catching up with the dopers, making it harder to get away with cheating.
Sir Roger, who ran the first four-minute mile in 1954, was knighted in 1975 for services to medicine, having worked as a neurologist for years.
Now, over 40 years on, the former British athlete has been honoured for his contribution to the sporting world, which also included a stint as chairman of the Sports Council of Great Britain between 1971 to 1974.
Speaking at Buckingham Palace, Sir Roger told ITV News he was "delighted" with the way lottery funding continued to help develop sport across the UK.
But he also voiced his concern over doping and drug cheats.
"I'm only sorry in some aspects that there are problems with drugs and that is something which is an extreme sadness to me," he said.
"I hope that Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) and Usada (US Anti-Doping Angency) will be successful in bringing this to an end."
He added: "It pains me a lot, but I still believe there is something very healthy underneath the whole of this activity and I long to see this brought into ascendancy again."
Sir Roger voiced his confidence that anti-doping agencies are now "much better organised" and have ever greater prospects of catching drugs cheats.